El-Zakzaky Chaos on Abuja streets as Police, Shiites clash
Protesters were attacked with tear gas and water canons.
Chaos has taken over some streets of Abuja as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also called Shiites, clashed with police officers during a protest demanding the release of their spiritual leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, on Monday, April 16, 2018.
Eyewitnesses have taken to social media to report gun shots from the police as protesters were also attacked with tear gas and water canons. Trouble has reportedly spread through Maitama, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Unity Fountain, Millennium Park and Ministers Hill in the capital city as protesters have been reported to fight back.
Monday's altercation reportedly started after the protesters continued their demonstrations in Maitama which led to armed police officers trying to disperse them with tear gas canisters and water canons.
While some of the protesters ran for safety, others were recorded on video attacking a Police anti-riot van after it sprayed the mob with water from mounted canons.
Last week, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command banned protests and rallies at the Unity Fountain in Abuja where the Shiites usually stage their protests.
The ban had resulted in the arrest of Deji Adeyanju, the convener of Concerned Nigerians group which organises daily sit-outs at the Unity Fountain in demand for El-Zakzaky's release.
El-Zakzaky has been in custody for two years after the Nigerian Army raided his residence in Zaria and killed hundreds of his followers, including three of his sons, in December 2015.
This was a direct consequence of his followers' clash with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai.
Despite the court order of Justice Gabriel Kolawole calling for his release on December 2, 2016, after he ruled that the government's justification of "holding him for his own protection" is insufficient, the cleric remains in government custody with his wife.
After rumours of his death intensified protests in January, the DSS allowed him to speak to the media on January 13, his first public appearance since his incarceration.